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Negotiations between city, police union still deadlocked

By Staff | May 24, 2011

The city has decided to stick with the proposals on the table in negotiations with the police union following a meeting between city council and staff.
During an April meeting, the city’s labor attorney proposed a 4 percent pay reduction for lieutenants, sergeants and officers and a 2 percent pension contribution increase, including a 1 percent pension benefit enhancement in regards to in-line duty disability.
Attorney John Hament also put forth a second option, a 6 percent pay cut.
The city had originally proposed a 6 percent pay cut, followed by 5 percent.
The Cape Coral Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 33 proposed a 2 percent pay reduction — up from 1 percent — and a 2 percent pension contribution hike.
The union also put forth a core benefit enhancement and asked that at the end of the fiscal year — Sept. 30 — all officers advance to their correct pay step level. Officers move up in steps and earn the higher pay for each level.
Finding themselves deadlocked, Hament and his team agreed to meet with Cape Coral City Council and present the union’s proposals, then come back to the table. On Tuesday, Hament told the union that the city will not change its stance.
“We feel that the current position of the city is appropriate for our financial objectives, in accordance with trying to bring down expenses,” he said.
Union president Kurt Grau said he would have to meet again with his board and union members before moving forward with the negotiations.
“We appreciate you going to council,” he added.
After the meeting Tuesday, Grau and union attorney Gene Gibbons expressed some frustration with the city’s stance. They said they had hoped the city council would be willing to offer up a new counterproposal to what was on the table.
“A couple of the things that the police union would like us to alter are just not acceptable to us,” Hament said.
He cited the request for officers to advance in steps as one example.
“That was unacceptable,” Hament said.
Another area of contention is the union’s proposal regarding the pension benefit enhancement. He said the city proposed a 1 percent enhancement on in-line duty disability, while the union is seeking a core benefit enhancement.
“It’s negotiating a large portion of the savings,” he said of the union’s proposal. “That reduced our savings.”
Hament said he hopes that the union will agree with the city’s position.
“On behalf of the city, I do appreciate the difficulty in agreeing to concessions,” he added.
The next negotiations have been scheduled for 2 p.m. June 13.
There is no deadline for a consensus, but the contract is due Sept. 30.